Tesla asked a California judge to delay a lawsuit brought by the California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing accusing the company of racial discrimination in its facility in Fremont, Calif., Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Tesla alleges that the state agency filed its lawsuit in February as part of a "turf war" with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is investigating the company separately. Tesla's lawyers said in a filing that the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing's three-year investigation prior to suing was "bare bones," and that the agency didn't make the company aware of many worker complaints until after the lawsuit was filed.
Tesla is seeking to pause the lawsuit for 120 days, as well as make the agency mediate with the company outside of court, according to Reuters.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing brought the lawsuit in mid-February, alleging that Tesla's factory in Fremont is a racially-segregated workplace. Kevin Kish, the agency's director, told the Wall Street Journal in February that the factory's Black employees are discriminated against in job assignments and pay, "subjected to racial slurs" by supervisors and managers and faced racist graffiti in the factory's restrooms and work stations.
Tesla responded to the lawsuit in a blog post, calling the agency's efforts "misguided," and a "narrative spun by the DFEH and a handful of plaintiff firms to generate publicity." Tesla said in its blog post from February that it intended to ask the court pause the case once the lawsuit was filed.
This isn't Tesla's first run-in with allegations of discrimination. Six employees filed lawsuits against the company for alleged sexual harassment in December, and in October, former employee Owen Diaz won a lawsuit claiming that Tesla subjected him to a racially hostile workplace — though his award was reduced from a nearly $137 million to $15 million last week. More than 100 Tesla employees have been granted the right to sue in the past three years, mostly on the basis of race-based complaints.